Kenya leaders deny delay on post-election reform

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Kenya’s coalition government rejected yesterday international donors’ accusations it was not doing enough to tackle the root causes of last year’s post- election violence and bring to account those behind the killing.
Former UN chief Kofi Annan, who led last year’s talks to end the violence that killed at least 1300 people and uprooted 300 000, arrived in Nairobi again last week and said the Kenyan people expected to see concrete action, Reuters reports.
Last year’s bloodshed started after opposition leader Raila Odinga disputed President Mwai Kibaki’s Dec. 07 election win. Odinga is now prime minister in east Africa’s biggest economy.
Kenya’s new grand unity government said it would introduce an updated constitution, reform the notoriously corrupt police, judiciary and electoral process, as well as tackling festering disputes over land ownership that fuelled much of the violence.
After meeting Annan yesterday, Kibaki and Odinga issued a statement rejecting allegations by international donors, inclucing the United States and European Union, that the reforms aimed at avoiding a repeat of the violence had been delayed, and that those behind the blood-letting were no closer to trial.
“The grand coalition government has resolved to deal with all the contentious issues as a coalition government,” it said.
“Under the circumstances, the overall progress made by the government in the implementation of the reform program is impressive.”
Many Kenyans are increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress in prosecuting the main architects of the 2008 chaos.
Annan’s frustration with the delays became evident in July when he handed over a list of the top violence suspects to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, saying that the country’s stability depended on an end to impunity.
Impunity
While Kenya may still have the option of setting up a local tribunal to try the main perpetrators, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo also seems to be running out of patience.
He said on Sept. 30 he would pursue charges against top suspects and make Kenya an example to the world on dealing with impunity. Moreno-Ocampo is due to hold talks with Kenyan officials in the coming weeks.
Kibaki and Odinga said yesterday the door remained open for individuals to face the ICC.
“The grand coalition government opted to accord priority to reconciliation while leaving the door open for the suspects bearing the greatest responsibility over the post-election violence to be tried by the ICC,” their statement said.
“The coalition government is accelerating the reform of the judiciary to be better placed to handle the bulk of the cases. The government is committed to ending impunity and to emerge the observance of the rule of law.”
Annan warned that time was running out for the coalition government to take the steps needed to avoid a repeat of the violence at the next presidential elections in 2012.



Pic: President Mwai Kabaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga